When we first started offering wellness assessments to our struggling Tour players we were shocked. An unusually large percentage of their results were coming back with mild to serious levels of dehydration!
Dehydration can wreck even the best of games without the player even knowing what is happening. When we found so many golfers are dehydrated, we knew we needed to understand “why” so we could best get to the “how” of solving it for each of them.
We started asking lots of questions and found 8 common reasons golfers are dehydrated. This is in addition to actively practicing and playing every day and not replacing lost electrolytes. They are listed here along with solutions for each.
Reasons for Dehydration in Golfers
1. Some do not want to drink because they do not want to be interrupted with frequent trips to the toilet while competing.
If your fluids are going in and coming right out, you need electrolytes! Take a good quality electrolyte tablet and water, or electrolyte powder diluted in water before, during and after play. Replacing electrolytes and water will enable your body to effectively balance cellular fluids. You will then remain hydrated, happy, play great AND, will not need the frequent potty breaks.
2. Some feel uncomfortable, less athletic, with lots of fluid in their already nervous stomach.
Sip your water or electrolyte solution slowly throughout the round. In warmer weather keep a bottle of water or electrolyte solution at hand and remind yourself to sip some on every hole.
3. Some do not drink because they just do not feel thirsty.
By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Note that stress reduces thirst. Same as number 2, sip water every hole even if you are not thirsty. Base your intake more on the current heat index (temperature and humidity) & wind than on thirst. (see # 4)
4. Some under-estimate how much they are perspiring while practicing and playing a round of golf.
Lower humidity will make the moisture on your skin evaporate faster. Breathing also loses water vapor. Weigh yourself before your round and again after, preferably with the same clothes and on the same scale. For every pound you lose, you should plan to compensate by drinking 20 oz. of water preferably with a good electrolyte replacement tablet or solution.
5. Some have a habit of replacing lost fluids with caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
Don’t do that! Caffeine and alcohol can further dehydrate. If you must then drink in moderation and plan to replace most of your fluids with water or a good electrolyte solution.
6. Some are long-time followers of popular medical advice and dutifully avoid salting their foods.
Unless you have high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, or your doctor has put you on a low sodium diet, your body will actually function better if you use a good unprocessed salt on your food. This will naturally help replace electrolytes lost during play. It is generally recommended that you salt your food to taste. That is, salt it until it tastes good to you. [our favorite is Sea Salt or Celtic Salt]
7. Some players are simply unprepared. For whatever reason, water is not readily available at least every few holes and they did not plan ahead by bringing their own.
Try to keep water or an electrolyte solution in your bag if there is any chance that water will not be available to you at some time during the day. Your body will actually like it better if you drink throughout the round rather than just at the beginning and end of the day.
8. Some do not like the taste of water and prefer to get their fluids from tasty sugary drinks.
Solution: Sugar and corn syrup (which most sodas and sports drinks are full of) can draw fluids to the intestines and away from the rest of the body, reducing cell function & performance. Sugary drinks are more a habit or addiction than a taste preference. So, if you cannot give them up completely at least drink them in moderation. Maybe make a deal with yourself– like “I will reward myself with one sugary drink after my round if I drink water or an electrolyte solution during the round”.
The Importance of Nutrition in Golf
While dehydration is far from the only nutrition problem facing many golfers, it is among the easiest to fix. Finding something healthy that you enjoy and staying prepared will give you an edge over many of your opponents just because you’re properly hydrated. You will improve stamina, stay better focused, be more able to manage emotions and best of all, good hydration should lower your scores! For best results, be aware of nutrition issues beyond dehydration.